Editor’s Note: All authors in our Spouse Confessions Series are anonymous – they’ve shared part of their hearts with you and some pieces are incredibly difficult for them to write down. Please keep this in mind as you read and comment.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” -Chinese Proverb.
With the abundance of resources available to the military community, have we lost the ability to be resourceful? Can resiliency be taught? Will the current and future generations of military families even be able to understand that having resources and being resourceful are two very different ways of life? Have we become the ones who are ‘entitled’ or have they? When we (spouses who began military life pre-9/11) were in their shoes, many of the current resources available didn’t exist.
But here’s the thing: How can we fully expect a generation who was thrust into military life as it exists right now (the only mil-life they have ever known) NOT to have a sense of ‘entitlement’? To them, all of the programs and services that they have come to know as fixtures, are being picked off one by one. It’s common nature to be upset when things are being taken from us. Maybe it just comes down to what we are upset about losing.
Some of the younger spouses might be upset about the cuts happening to family programs or childcare issues. Some of the mid-career spouses might be upset about the ‘potential’ changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill option called Transfer of Entitlement. The soon-to-be transitioning spouses may have concerns surrounding the ‘always talked about’ changes to retirement benefits. And let’s face it: we’re all ticked about the BAH cuts.
These are all benefits that were phased in over the last few decades. These are all ‘fixtures’ in our minds, depending on when we were introduced to military life. But what if ALL of these things were fixtures upon entering? What if all of the services and programs and benefits were always in place?
For example those of us who ‘came up’ without the family readiness system as it is today might be thinking “Well, I survived without it…I didn’t have all that stuff and I did JUST fine.” But for a brand new spouse who was only able to attend classes at the Family Service Center because they had the ability to offer FREE childcare? Well, that loss might cut pretty deep.
As a seasoned spouse, I might think, “Seriously? I made it work all by myself…why the heck can’t SHE?”
I might think, “That child doesn’t need resources…she needs to BE resourceful!”
I might think, “She’s entitled!”
But then I might gut-check myself. I might try to remember all those struggles I worked so hard to forget, those struggles that made me resilient and resourceful…because there WAS no other choice. I might try to remember that I had wished to God that I did have a different choice. And I might want to be glad that she does…
If my daughter ever grows up to either become a servicemember or marry one, she is going to be in for one wild ride. Do I want her to be resourceful? Yes. Do I want her to have those resources available to her? Yes. Will she survive either way? I’m sure she will. But I won’t fault her if she doesn’t survive the same way I did.
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